Van Buren Youth Camp Brings 70+ Years of Camping Traditions PLUS New Yonder Way Program for 2024

Van Buren Youth Camp

VBYC Welcomes Campers to a 2024 Summer to Remember

Along the shores of Great Bear Lake, a 30-minute drive northwest of Kalamazoo lies Van Buren Youth Camp.

Nestled among the rolling hills and rustic cabins, you will hear the rustling of a kite soaring, the crackle of a campfire, and the giggling of campers as they are free to be themselves while they grow and learn at camp.

VBYC invites all children ages six through 18 for a summer camp full of activities, connections and fun (sometimes quirky) traditions.

All campers are welcome, without regard to gender, race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious, economic, or cultural background.

A fixture since 1950, Van Buren Youth Camp helps campers build self-confidence, positive relationships, personal integrity, and individual and group responsibility. Campers leave with lifelong memories and friendships.

And new for 2024, VBYC adds a unique camping experience called Yonder Way. Read on for all of their offerings for the best summer yet:

Van Buren Youth Camp

Enjoy Mother Nature With 100 Acres To Explore

You read that right: Van Buren Youth Camp’s offers triple-digit acreage between their grounds and Great Bear Lake, giving a massive space for campers to enjoy and connect.

With ample space for swimming, sports, arts and crafts, raising the flag or having a campfire, campers love discovering new spots outside.

If you’re curious as to how this fun space is laid out, VBYC’s map outlines where all of the facilities and activities are located along Great Bear Lake:

Van Buren Youth Camp

Camp Activities & Schedule

The kids won’t be bored at Van Buren Youth Camp.

With a mix of structured classes, choice time and group activities, campers experience a wide variety of creative and physical activities during their stay.

The waterfront is a central part of VBYC’s program. Whether swimming, kayaking or canoeing, Great Bear Lake provides an inviting, watery space for playing and learning.

Van Buren Youth Camp cabins

Camper Schedule

The staff at Van Buren Youth Camp knows that children thrive with a consistent schedule.

VBYC provides scheduled meals and classes, as well as flexible time for campers to choose their own activities during their stay:

Typical Day at VBYC
7:00 AM: Wake up
7:15 AM: Polar Bear Dip in the Lake
7:45 AM: Kitchen Patrol
8:00 AM: Flag Raising
8:10 AM: Breakfast
8:50 AM: Camp & Cabin Clean Up
9:15 AM: Cabin Inspections
9:45 AM: Activity 1
10:45 AM: Activity 2

NOON: Lunch
12:45 PM: Activity & Camp Store
1:30 PM: Cabin Quality Time
2:30 PM: Activity 3
3:30 PM: Choice 1
4:30 PM: Choice 2 & Camp Store
6:15 PM: Dinner
7:00 PM: Activity & Camp Store
7:30 PM: Flag Lowering
7:45 PM: Thought/Reflection Time
8:00 PM: Evening Activity
8:50 PM: Snack
9:00 PM: Campfire
9:30 PM: Clean Up/Get Ready for Bed
10:00 PM: Bedtime

Free time is also on the schedule!

During choice time, campers can shop at the store, tackle arts and crafts, or go on a scavenger hunt.

Relaxing with friends or taking a nap are also free time options, allowing campers to recharge before their next adventure.

Van Buren Youth Camp
Meal time at VBYC

“So much learning happens at camp every single day. But we package it up in fantasy, games, and the magic of free play- the campers have no idea they’re learning some really valuable stuff!”
-Dottie Myers-Hill, Camp Director

Camp Activities

There is no shortage of activities at Van Buren Youth Camp. Each camper does three activities per day, providing the opportunity to try all of them by week’s end:

• Archery
• Canoeing & Kayaking
• Sporty Initiatives
• Riflery
• Song, Dance & Drama
• Swimming
• Nature
• Crafts

Van Buren Youth Camp boating class

New Camp Program: Yonder Way

New for 2024, Van Buren Youth Camp is launching Yonder Way as another summer camp experience.

Using 50 acres of space at VBYC, staff and counselors will guide 15 campers with a unique nature, science, sports and art-based curriculum. Yonder Way teams will cook their meals, run their own daily schedule, and interact with the main campers at VBYC multiple times throughout the week.

Yonder Way activities will include
• Biking the Kal Haven trail
• Hiking and exploring (they have a 30-acre nature trail!)
• Star gazing
• STEAM activities
• Writing/poetry/journalism
• PLUS traditional camp activities like campfires, archery, and group games

“While our programs at VBYC are amazing in their work and impact, I’m especially excited to see this new Yonder Way program come to life. Our opportunity to learn and grow in this 50 acre space is tremendous!”
-Dottie Myers-Hill, Camp Director

Van Buren Youth Camp Flyer 2024

Counselor Leadership Program

VBYC ensures that campers are overseen by the best of the best and makes training its staff a priority with the longest continuously running leadership program in Michigan.

Counselors spend a full week in training to lead a cabin of children through their week at Van Buren Youth Camp.

Camperships offer Financial Assistance

Van Buren Youth Camp wants to welcome as many campers as possible and does not want anyone to miss out on participating due to cost.

Alumni and community partners donate to the Campership Fund, which provides financial assistance to families.

25% – 100% Camperships are available; interested families should check the box for financial aid when completing the online application.

Registration FAQs

Ages & Stay: Camps are designed for grades 1-12. Grades 1-3 are 3 days/2 nights. Most others are a week-long (schedule).

Food Allergies: Van Buren Youth Camp is a nut-free facility. The Camp Store offers a variety of snacks for campers to purchase, including gluten-free options.

Counselors: Counselors are assigned 8 campers for the week, focusing on safety and fun. They stay in the same cabin with their campers, sharing meals and attending activities together. 

Other Staff: There is a team of dedicated and enthusiastic staff at VBYC, including the director, certified instructors, head counselors, and health officers.

Cost: Varies by camp (see schedule). Financial Aid is available through their Camperships Fund.

Accreditation & Licensing: VBYC an American Camp Association accredited camp and is licensed by the Michigan Department of Human Services.

Registration for 2024 VBYC Summer Camp is Open

Join Van Buren Youth Camp for what promises to be a wonderful, fun-filled experience your child won’t soon forget.

Van Buren Youth Camp

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12370 45th Street
Bloomingdale, MI 49026
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